Monday, March 16, 2015

Can I Have A Basement At My Cottage On The Bruce Peninsula?


I want to build a custom home on the Bruce Peninsula but the land I’m looking at is all solid rock, can I still have a basement?


Building a custom home on the Bruce Peninsula comes with certain challenges especially if you are going to build the home on a piece of lake front property that is all solid rock and you also want a full basement under your cottage.

First things first, make sure that the floor of the basement you want is going to be high enough above the water level of lake that you are not going to have future water problems. Remember that the level of the great lakes goes up and down more than 4 feet depending on the weather, season or the decade. For example; Lake Huron has risen almost 1 full metre in the last 2 years alone.

If your lot is what we call “high and dry” then you should be able to create the full basement that you want, you just have to remove some of the rock that’s in the way. Being High and dry usually means that you are up a hill and there is a significant amount of height between you and the Lake.

Removing solid rock on a building lot in cottage country usually involves blasting the rock until you get to the desired depth. There are several problems that come along with blasting rock for foundations;

It’s expensive. The handling and detonating of explosives is not a thing done lightly by anyone. It is dangerous work and most be done with care. That means that there are very few companies that do it and fewer companies that do it really well. The better ones cost more money.

It can cause delays. Blasting can cause delays in your construction schedule as there aren’t a lot of companies that do it well and so you have to wait for them.

Depending on how the rock fractures the hole can end up being uneven which then requires you to fill in the gaps with stone or concrete, this will add to the cost of the project.

Blasting is usually done only when there is certain moderate weather conditions, starting the building process in the spring means waiting for moderate spring weather which can cause weeks of delays.

There is another way to remove the rock; since you are in the Bruce Peninsula you are probably building on top of limestone and not granite. Limestone is a softer rock then the granite that you find in most other cottage regions of Ontario. What Limestone allows you to do is break it with machines instead of blasting it with explosives.

The way you break out limestone is with a very large excavator that has a breaking hammer attached to the end of its arm instead of a bucket. This hammer fractures the rock into pieces, once the pieces are small enough to fit into a dump truck another excavator digs them out of the hole and loads them into the trucks. This process can be done anytime of the year and can be done rather quickly. This process of breaking rock usually costs less then blasting as well.

So when you are looking to remove rock for your basement ask about fracturing the rock instead of blasting it, this could save you time and money on your build.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

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